Sunday, June 4, 2017

Playing Without A Helmet

Playing Without A Helmet
By Anthony Lanzillo

What if your football coach told you to go into the game but to leave your helmet on the bench? You wouldn't do it. And the reason you wouldn't do it is because you don't want to get physically hurt or injured.   

Well, guess what. It's the same thing with your mental game. If you step onto the field for your team, and you are not mentally prepared to play, you are going to struggle with your concentration, your composure and your confidence. When that happens, and it will, you are also going to get hurt - mentally, emotionally and physically. 

Football is a tough game. And that's why you wear not only a helmet but shoulder pads, leg pads and a mouthpiece. You want to be physically protected so you can play your best game, and hopefully not get injured and taken out of the game. Likewise, that's why you do such things as prepare your mental prep playbook and develop specific mental skills to make sure that you're mentally conditioned and prepared to play. When you do this, you are "mentally protected" and giving yourself the opportunity to play your best game. If not, you are going to end up getting mentally injured or may even become mentally disabled. 

For football players, it comes down to the mental game. What's going on between your ears and under that helmet will determine what is going to happen on that field. If you haven't gotten your "mental tune-up", and don't have your head in the game, then you won't be mentally tough enough or mentally strong enough to successfully compete in any game.

When you step onto the field, you want to have the competitive edge. And you want to be mentally tough at those critical moments of the game when your team needs you. It may be a key block to protect your quarterback, stopping a runner from getting the first down or catching the ball on third down and twenty.

Here are three quick and simple things you want to focus on to stay mentally tough and keep your head in the game. First, focus on what you want. You want to make the block to protect the quarterback. You want to stop the runner from making the first down. You want to catch the ball. If you start thinking or worrying about what you don't want to happen, you lose your edge and become mentally weaker. Second, focus on what you control. And that means you only focus on yourself and what you are doing. Thinking and worrying about things outside of your control, like the ref's calls or the verbal taunts from the other team, will take away your edge. Third, focus on what you're doing right now. It's all about the present moment. The only thing that counts is what you're doing in the moment. To think or worry about what happened five minutes ago or at the end of the game will only take your head out of the game and could get you hurt.

Remember, playing without being mentally prepared is like playing without a helmet. You are going to get hurt, not play up to your potential and will put your own team at a disadvantage. So, if you don't want to get hurt or take away your competitive edge, then you want to have the mental skills and do the mental conditioning that will keep your head in the game. And when you do this, you will be mentally prepared to play. It's like playing with your helmet on.  

One of the best tools for any football player is The Mental Tune-Up. For more information, go to  

Anthony is a mental skills coach to athletes. If you have any questions or want to talk to Anthony about being your mental skills coach, email him at

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